When it comes to real top-shelf quality in New Hampshire, look no further than the nearest theatre or auditorium. Here’s what the Granite State’s premier cultural organizations have scheduled for the 2005-06 season:
New Hampshire Symphony Orchestra (669-3559, nhso.org)
“American Idol” will take on a new meaning as the theme of the 32nd season of the NHSO honoring American heroes and heroines with works from America’s greatest composers. Opening at 8 p.m., Oct. 28, at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Corcord, will be a program including Summon the Heroes, John Williams’ Olympic fanfare, New Morning for the World by Joseph Schwantner set to the inspiring words of Martin Luther King, and Enigma Variations by British composer Edward Elgar. Tickets $20-$49. Other performances: Holiday Pops concert, Dec. 18-20; Vivaldi’s Overture for Strings, and Jackie’s Song, and Dead Elvis by contemporary composer Michael Daugherty, March 3-5; Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man and Lincoln Portrait with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, May 5-6.
Nashua Symphony Orchestra (595-9156, nashuasymphony.org)
The NSO begins its 82nd season at 8 p.m., Oct. 15, at the Keefe Auditorium in Nashua with Violin soloist Rachel Lee performing Leonard Bernstein’s Overture to Candide. The evening will also treat listeners to John Corigliano’s The Red Violin: Chaconne for Violin & Orchestra and works by Bizet, Dvořák and Schuman. Tickets $10-$45. Other performances: Gilbert and Sullivan favorites, Nov. 19; Precious Gems holiday concert, Dec. 10; Hidden Charms featuring NSO soloists, Feb. 4; Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana with the Nashua Symphony Choral Society, March 25; and piano prodigy Peng Peng performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 in d minor, K. 466.
Northern Ballet Theatre (889-8408, nbti.org)
New Hampshire’s professional ballet company opens its season with Tchaikovsky’s best-loved ballet, The Nutcracker, Dec. 3 at the Keefe Auditorium in Nashua. This lavish traditional production has colorful costumes, spectacular set designs and special effects--they wouldn’t even tell us how the Christmas tree grows! Tickets $10-35. Other performances: Spaulding Theater, Pinkerton Academy, Derry (with the N.H. Symphony Orchestra), Dec. 10; Dukakis Performing Arts Center at Montachusett Regional Technical School, Fitchburg, Mass., Fitchberg, Mass., Dec. 17. Future productions: Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake (in March, dates and locations to be announced).
Granite State Opera (878-0539, granitestateopera.org)
Lust. Power. Mayhem. Comedy. The new season of “Desperate Housewives”? Guess again. This is Granite State Opera’s production of Gaetano Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore (The Elixir of Love) at 8 p.m., Oct. 14 at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord. Good guy loves girl. Bad guy loves same girl. Snakeoil salesman offers to help. Trouble ensues. Tickets $18-$58. Other productions: Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, May 4 & 7.
Palace Theatre (668-5588, palacetheatre.org)
Broadway comes to the Palace Theatre this season with productions of the greatest hits from the Great White Way. Oliver premieres at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 7. Tickets $20-$40. Other productions are: Chicago, Nov. 11-19; A Christmas Carol, Dec. 9-18; 42nd Street, March 17-26; Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, April 7-22; and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, May 12-21.
The Music Hall (433-2400, the musichall.org)
The beautifully restored Music Hall is bringing visitors several exciting new series. “Kids Rule!” at the Music Hall with some of today’s top children’s performers, including Dan Zanes and Friends, 11 a.m. & 2 p.m., Oct. 22. Tickets $10-$20. Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin speaks 8 p.m., Dec. 10, as part of the “Writers on a New England Stage” series. Tickets $8-$10. “Intimately Yours” is a collection of headline pop concerts including acclaimed fiddler Natalie McMaster, 7:30 p.m., Feb. 2, and fusion folksinger Patty Larkin, 8 p.m., Apr. 21. Tickets $23-$38. Other events: A Scottish Christmas featuring Bonnie Rideout, Scottish Fiddle, Dec. 4; Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka, Jan. 21; Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake presented by the Russian National Ballet, April 8.
Fifth Annual New Hampshire Film Expo (647-6439, nhfx.com)
NHFX runs Oct. 14-16 at the Music Hall in Portsmouth bringing together more than 50 films made by talented student, amateur and professional filmmakers from all over the world.
Capitol Center for the Arts (ccanh.com, 225-1111)
Manhanttan Transfer comes to the Capitol 7:30 p.m., Oct. 20, with their smooth jazz harmonies and pop, Latin and world vocals. Other performances: Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant 40th Anniversary Massacree Tour 2005, Nov. 20; BB King, Jan. 26; FloorLords, a fusion of hip-hop dance, music and martial arts, May 18.
Hopkins Center for the Arts (646-2422, hop.dartmouth.edu)
Nordic Voices, a six-voice a cappella ensemble The Washington Post calls “no less than perfect” will take the stage at the Hop at 7 p.m., Oct. 20. The ensemble will perform the world premiere of a Hop-commissioned work from American composer John McGuire as well as music of the Renaissance and 20th-century. Tickets $26. Other performances: Academy Of St. Martin in The Fields Chamber Ensemble performing Mendelssohn’s Octet in E-Flat Major, Op. 20, Oct. 27; Grandchildren of The Buffalo Soldiers, a play by William S. Yellow Robe Jr. that confronts prejudice and questions of identity, Jan. 19; Limón Dance Company performing a choreographed biography of the life and work of dance company founder José Limón, March 21 & April 1.
New Hampshire Philharmonic Orchestra (647-6476, nhphil.org)
At 101 years young, performances at The Phil celebrates accomplished amateur artists and experienced professional musicians alike. The Fall Masterworks concert at 8 p.m., Nov. 5, will be an exciting and unique event held in collaboration with the Currier Museum of Art. The concert will combine paintings and photographs from the mid-century Steiglitz Group (such as Georgie O’Keeffe, John Marin and Alfred Steiglitz) with evocative orchestral music by Maurice Ravel, George Gershwin and Beethoven. Tickets $18-$33. Other performances include: Holiday Pops Catch the Holiday Spirit, including narration by N.H. Union Leader journalist John Clayton, Nov. 26; The Story of Babar Family Concert, March 12 & 19; Spring Masterworks with pieces by Copland, Mozart and Brahms, May 6.
Opera New Hampshire (668-5588, operanh.org)
Broadway’s Rent, Baz Lurman’s Moulin Rouge and many other productions are merely covers of Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème. Performed by the National Lyric Opera, with Michael Capasso, artistic director, at 8 p.m., Nov. 4 at the Palace Theatre in Manchester, this tragic tale of love and loss finds poet Rodolfo, seamstress Mimi and a group of young idealistic artists struggling to survive a multitude of hardships. Go see the real thing. A discussion about the opera precedes the performance. Tickets $40-$130. Other performances include: Susannah, Carlisle Floyd’s American opera based loosely on the biblical account of “Susannah and the Elders,” is about a beautiful poor young woman ostracized in the rural South for what is believed to be her lack of modesty.
White Mountain Musical Arts Bach Festival (356-3778, whitemountainbach.com)
Thinking a little ahead, mark your calendars for the Bach Festival 2006 presented by White Mountain Musical Arts, which takes place Aug. 24-27, the weekend before Labor Day at Mt. Cranmore at the 10th Mountain Pavilion. This four-day, five-concert festival is one of the largest baroque festivals in the Northeast dedicated to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, and other baroque masters. It routinely plays to capacity crowds. There is no admission price to the events, but a $10 donation for each concert or a $30 donation for a four-day pass is suggested.
Lakes Region Symphony (279-3324, lrso.org)
This accomplished community symphony orchestra is comprised of talented local and regional musicians—even three generations of family members. The LRS gets its 28th season under way with a traditional holiday concert at 7:30 p.m., Dec. 10, at the Inter-Lakes Community Auditorium in Meredith. Tickets $6-$12. Other performances include: Vaughn Williams’ English Folksong Suite, Air on the G String by Bach, Bizet’s L’Arleissene Suite #1, and others, March 18; Copland’s An Outdoor Overture, Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, May 20.
Leddy Center for the Performing Arts (679-2781, leddycenter.org)
The Leddy Center transforms its stage into the yellow brick road with a performance of The Wizard of Oz at 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 29. You’ve seen the motion picture, now see it on stage. Running through Nov. 20. Tickets $14-$16. Other performances include: A Christmas Carol, Dec. 9 & 18; On Golden Pond, Feb 10-26; Oh, Joy! Oh, Rapture!: A Gilbert & Sullivan Review, March 10-19; The Odd Couple, April 7-23.